The initial processing and formal examination of international applications in the international phase are carried out by PCT authorities under the PCT. Unless there is a specific request from the applicant, the EPO acting as a designated or elected Office may not process or examine an international application prior to the expiry of 31 months from the date of filing of the application or, if priority has been claimed, from the earliest priority date (31-month time limit) (see E‑IX, 2.8 and E‑IX, 2.5.2). The EPO will, however, prior to the expiry of the 31-month time limit, perform any purely administrative tasks such as adding documents relating to the European phase to the file and recording the professional European representative appointed to act on behalf of the applicant in the European phase, to ensure the correct notification of correspondence once the ban on processing has been lifted. Since the EPO has not exercised the waiver referred to in Art. 20(1)(a) PCT, a copy of the international application will be furnished by the International Bureau. The EPO does not require the applicant to furnish a copy of the international application under Art. 22 PCT or Art. 39 PCT, even if the International Bureau has not yet communicated a copy under Art. 20 PCT at the time the application enters the European phase (see PCT Gazette 14/1986, 2367).
Where the language of the international application is not an official language of the EPO, the applicant is required, in accordance with Art. 22 PCT or Art. 39 PCT and Rule 159(1)(a), to furnish a translation within a period of 31 months from the date of filing or, if priority has been claimed, from the earliest priority date (31-month time limit).
Information on what the translation must include and further details concerning the requirement for filing a translation can be found in the latest version of the Guide for applicants: "’Euro-PCT Guide’: PCT procedure at the EPO".
The application is deemed to be withdrawn if the translation is not furnished within that period (Rule 160(1)). If the EPO finds that the application is deemed to be withdrawn for this reason, it communicates this to the applicant (Rule 160(2)). Rule 112(2) applies mutatis mutandis. The loss of rights is deemed not to have occurred if, within two months as from notification of the communication, the translation and a valid request for further processing (including the payment of the requisite fee) are filed (Art. 121 and Rule 135(1), see E-VIII, 2).
Where an international application was filed and published in the international phase in an official language of the EPO, it is not possible to change the language of the proceedings on entry into the European phase by filing a translation of that application into either of the other two official languages of the EPO (see G 4/08). In such cases, the language of the proceedings within the meaning of Art. 14(3) remains the language in which the application was published by WIPO's International Bureau and cannot be changed.